Sept a Huit (Seven to Eight), a popular weekly television show out of France is under fire after an interview aired intending to conceal the identity of a teen rape victim, went viral.
As viewers tuned in, they were introduced to a young woman who shared her harrowing account of sexual victimization as a former teen prostitute, the Daily Mail reports. But instead of choosing to air the interview without showing the 17-year-old’s face, the show opted to dress the victim, who was ID’d as “Nina,” in blackface, complete with a darker skin tone and a wig with a kinky-curly texture.
Nina appeared on the show to discuss her experiences and to discuss her autobiographical book, Papa, Viens Me Chercher, which translated to english means, Father, Come And Get Me. Nina’s describes how she was raped as a teen which led to a life in sex work to pay off a drug debt.
Many viewers questioned the production team’s decision after the interview showed her father who had white skin. It is unclear as to whether the man who was shown is Nina’s biological father or not.
After the interview received righteous backlash, the host of the show, Harry Roselmack, a Black male, came out in defense of the show’s decision.
“The choice of this makeup was made after tests, by experts, with the agreement of Nina and her parents,” he said.
“Without going into details that could help identify Nina, this choice was the most visually efficient,” he continued.
Roselmack even went so far to admit that the choice was righteous, being that at one point producers used makeup to lighten a skin of a Black woman to conceal her identity.
Roselmack went on to say that critics of the makeup choice are ignoring the real issue at hand.
“The real substantive debate, the societal debate supported by the brave testimony of this teenager and her father has been left in the background,’ he said.
‘Over 7000 teenagers are said to prostitute themselves in our country. Nina was one of them. Her story is terrifying. But what everyone is talking about is the way her makeup was done for her protection,” said Roselmack.
“The fact that the black community can rise and respond publicly to what it considers disrespectful is a good thing. But we ought to make the right choices to fight the right battles.”
In 2018 staff used prosthetics and lighter makeup to conceal the identity of a a male guest who experienced bullying due to his sexuality.
Using blackface is a deeply racist practice, founded on presenting Black features as a caricature with exaggerated and obtuse features.
What’s most disappointing is that producer’s and Roselmack’s defense of using Blackface dismisses the connection between Black victims of sexual assault and violence by presenting the Black body as something to be pillaged and attacked.